What is a School-Based Health Center?
Nationally, School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) represent a unique health care model for comprehensive physical, mental and preventive health services provided to youth and adolescents in a school setting, regardless of their ability to pay. While each Oregon SBHC is uniquely situated to meet the needs of its youth, all SBHCs have common attributes. In short, an SBHC is a medical clinic either within or on the grounds of a public school. Each SBHC is staffed by a primary care professional who may be a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, other medical or mental health professionals and support staff, such as a receptionist. The centers incorporate student-made artwork on the walls, beanbag chairs and teen-friendly music in the lobby. They are comfortable and accessible to encourage kids to either make an appointment to come in or to drop by when they need medical attention and/or want to learn more about health issues.
What are the goals?
- Improve access to affordable quality primary care and mental health services for school-aged youth
- Ensure services are developmentally appropriate
- Improve educational outcomes because healthy kids learn better.
Where are they?
Oregon 63 SBHCs are located in 21 counties in urban, suburban, rural and frontier communities (click here for Map). They are located on elementary (12), middle (5), high (37), and combined grades (9) school campuses.
Who uses them?
Services are available to students regardless of their ability to pay, insurance status, race, color, national origin, religion, immigration status, sexual orientation, handicap, or gender. Reasonable accommodations are made to provide confidential services to non-English speaking students. In some instances, centers provide services to siblings, families, and community members as well.
What services do they offer?
Performing routine physical exams, including sports physicals
Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illness
Treating minor injuries
Providing vision, dental, and blood pressure screenings
Health education, counseling, and wellness promotion
Providing and/or connecting students with mental health services
Giving classroom presentations on health and wellness
Why they work?
The SBHCs are located on school grounds and are open and operating when the kids are in school. As a result, students are back in class faster than if they had sought health care in a non-SBHC setting. Additionally, parents do not need to take time off work in order to transport the sick student to a doctor. SBHCs provide accessible, comprehensive, and confidential health care services to Oregon youth through public and private partnerships (e.g. schools, health departments, community providers, hospitals).
What drives the quality of care?
Oregon's SBHCs are staffed by trained, licensed professionals deeply committed to serving the health care needs of young people. Numerous required protocols are in place in order to maintain a high standard of care. Taking that a step further, Oregon SBHCs have certification standards to reduce site-to site variability. For more information, please view Oregon SBHC Certification Standards.